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Why a Chief Marketing Officer Wants His Best Employees to Quit

In the competition for talent, sometimes you want to set people free.

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BY Suzanne Lucas - 14 Sep 2018

Why a Chief Marketing Officer Wants His Best Employees to Quit

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Turnover is expensive and we all want our best employees to stay in our business, right? Of course, right. Except that sometimes you want even the best and the brightest to go out to other companies. While I've advocated this for years, I was somewhat surprised to see the Harvard Business Review do the same.

Ryan Bonnici, the chief marketing officer of G2 Crowd, gives four reasons why he encourages his best employees to look around, and take a new job if it suits them.

  1. Employees want development, not lip service.
  2. Openness allows conversations to thrive.
  3. There are benefits to their leaving.
  4. They're more likely to return.

Stop, and think about those things. If you're the CEO of a Fortune 100 company, you've probably got someone who reads this article for you, and your company has enough jobs, locations, and variety of work that you probably can sculpt the ideal career for many people. But, if you're a small to medium-size business, you can't offer all the development any one person needs.

Bonnici, for instance, is the chief marketing officer. G2 Crowd doesn't need two chief marketing officers. So, if he has an employee who wants to move into the C-suite, the only wan Bonnici can do this internally is to quit. While that would be a noble sacrifice, it's not at all practical.

Many people want growth and development, and that sometimes requires leaving. This leads us to Bonnici's next point: conversations.

Many of you have had an experience where you hand in a resignation letter with two week's notice only to be escorted to the parking lot. Why? Your boss doesn't want you taking any secrets to the competitors. Laying aside the sheer stupidity of this (if you're going to steal information, you'll do it before resigning), it prevents managers from planning ahead.

On the other hand, if you build a relationship with your employees and they know that you'll support them in their moves, they'll talk to you first. Having this support also means that you'll know when they are restless or want growth so you can help find it internally, if possible. In other words, being supportive of quitting means you can help retain as well.

Bonnici's next claim is that it is good for the business, and I agree with him 100 percent. He talks about how an employee who leaves on a positive note can continue to be a good brand ambassador, and I agree 100 percent. Any time I get the chance to talk about my former employer, Wegmans, I'm thrilled.

But, I'd like to add another reason: You need diversity. The same person isn't going to bring in a different perspective. You want new people to come in and that means old people going out. Sure, you don't want a constant revolving door, but you do want new ideas, and that means some turnover is good.

And lastly, Bonnici is a fan of the "boomerang" employee. Your employee left, learned some things, and then wants to come back. Excellent. Or your employee left for what she thought were greener pastures, found out they weren't, and wants to come back. That's great too. You've got a dedicated employee who knows what a great organization you've got.

When you notice an employee getting twitchy, open up a dialogue. It just may make your business better off in the long run.

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